Anyone with even a basic understanding of airsoft knows that hop-up is a vital mechanism on any gun. So, what is hop-up in airsoft, and how can you use it to your advantage?
Hop-up in airsoft is a gun feature that applies friction to the BB as it moves through the barrel. This causes the BB to spin backward, giving it more momentum to travel for longer and in a straight line before falling. The player has more accuracy and the ability to hit players at long range.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how hop-up in airsoft works, its benefits, and when not to use it. Let’s get started!
How Does Hop-Up in Airsoft Work?
In the past, it was rare to come across an airsoft gun with a hop-up (or high-operation power-up) mechanism. However, any good quality and modern airsoft gun will have this feature, which has greatly improved the accuracy of shots, especially at a long range.
Hop-up in airsoft works by harnessing the Magnus effect, a scientific concept that involves an object experiencing friction, spinning in the opposite direction in which it’s moving, and rising.
When the Magnus effect is applied to a BB gun pellet, it rises out of the airsoft gun at the same height as if it were propelled without a hop-up mechanism. However, it will remain and travel at the maximum height for a longer period, which is where the main benefit of this feature comes in.
Since the BB pellet can counteract the effects of gravity through backspinning, it can travel faster and at a further distance.
The hop-up mechanism on an airsoft gun is typically adjustable and usually located at the front and outside of the weapon. Depending on your airsoft gun model, the hop-up mechanism is normally in the form of a wheel or dial that you can adjust according to how far you need the BB pellet to travel before it falls.
The hop-up mechanism has a nub that protrudes into the chamber via a small opening. When you activate it and fire your shot, it exerts friction on the BB pellet, causing it to backspin.
Different Hop-Up Mechanism Types
Airsoft guns come in various shapes and sizes, and their hop-up mechanisms can also vary wildly. Below are the most common types:
- Rotary adjusters. Adjusting hop-up with a rotary mechanism is common on P90s and M4s, is simple to use, and allows incremental adjustments.
- Sliders. If you have an AK airsoft model, you likely have a slider to adjust the hop-up. The sliding is usually done with a knob or screw.
- Top dead center. Most commonly seen on snipers, TDCs (or top dead centers) give you incredibly accurate hop-up adjustments but can be challenging to change in a hurry because you need a special tool.
- Gears. Gears don’t allow you to fine-tune your hop-up level as much as TDCs, but they’re easy to use and great for making sudden adjustments.
- Fixed hop-up. Although not ideal, the more basic, older, and cost-effective airsoft weapons often come with fixed hop-up mechanisms with no option to change the hop-up level. However, if you’re just getting started with airsoft, this kind of mechanism can help you become used to making accurate shots on your own.
If you come across a very old or basic airsoft weapon, it may not have a hop-up mechanism at all. These airsoft guns work well at close range but can be highly inaccurate and ineffective for targets a long distance away.
How To Use Hop-Up In Airsoft
Knowing when to use hop-up in airsoft (and how much) is an excellent tactic.
To adjust the hop-up on your airsoft gun, find the hop-up wheel or dial and adjust it accordingly:
- Turn it counterclockwise to reduce the hop-up. If you want no hop-up at all, adjust the dial counterclockwise as far as it can go and until you hear a click.
- If you want maximum hop-up, adjust the wheel clockwise all the way.
Too much hop-up and backspin on the BB will cause it to hurtle out of the airsoft gun barrel at a very high speed, and it may be traveling too high to hit your target.
How much hop-up you use depends on various factors:
- The weight and size of your BBs (e.g., 6mm).
- The BB brand (different brands typically have their own configurations).
- Your airsoft shooting technique.
- The distance from your opponent or target.
Tip: Heavier BBs require more hop-up.
How To Know How Much Hop-Up To Use
To achieve the perfect technique using the hop-up feature, most airsoft players find that they need to experiment a little. Your ultimate goal should be a BB that travels out of the gun in a straight line and reaches your intended target.
If you’re still getting to grips with how hop-up works, use the guide below to experiment with the adjustment dial and your shooting technique:
- Find a safe practice area and place a target board approximately 75 feet/23 meters away from you.
- Adjust your airsoft gun’s hop-up wheel until you think you have the correct amount of hop-up to hit the target.
- Fire a few shots and monitor the quality, paying special attention to the trajectory.
- If your BB’s trajectory tends to fall before reaching the target, you need more hop-up. In contrast, if the BB is still rising as it passes the target, you can use less hop-up.
- Adjust the hop-up until the BB rises slightly, and then travels in a straight line before hitting the target.
The hop-up mechanism in an airsoft weapon is essential because it allows the player to hit targets accurately and at a long range. Hop-up in airsoft harnesses the Magnus effect by exerting friction on the BB as it travels through the barrel, causing it to spin backward.
Depending on the airsoft gun you have, the hop-up mechanism can be in various formats:
- Rotary adjuster
- Gear or dial
- Fixed mechanism
However, older and very basic airsoft guns might not have a hop-up mechanism at all.